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How to Train for Your First 5k

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From zombie runs to neon races, 5ks have become a trendy physical activity that is especially welcoming to new runners. The race is a little over three miles long, which makes it a manageable distance for people who aren't necessarily extreme athletes but wish to get in shape and do something outside of their comfort zones. If you're considering signing up, follow these tips for training for your very first race.

Sign Up
It's important to sign up for a race the moment you feel the urge. This will help strengthen your commitment and make it more difficult to back out. It will serve as motivation and keep you training to the best of your ability. Get a friend to join in as well if that will help you stay committed.

Start slow and build your way up.Start slow and build your way up.

Start Slow
Your first week of training doesn't need to be intense. In fact, it should only be slightly more involved than your typical level of physical activity. If you're starting with very little endurance, try just walking for 30 minutes each day. One mile takes an average person 7-10 minutes to finish, so training yourself to stay active for 30 minutes without stopping will help you get in the right mindset for your 5k.

Gradually Increase Intensity
As you get used to 30 minutes of consecutive physical activity, you'll need to kick up the intensity a bit to increase your endurance. Try alternating between walking and running throughout your 30 minutes of cardio. Once you get comfortable with that, try only running for the full half hour. If you need to stop, continue to walk the remainder of the time. This will get you in the habit of pushing yourself when you think you can't go any further.

"Training too hard can cause injury."

Take a Break
While it's important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, training too hard can cause injury. Be sure to train at your own pace and take a day off each week leading up to your race. When you give your body a break, your muscles and joints are able to recover. During this time, make sure you're practicing smart habits, like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated. Soothe muscles with comforting heating pads and apply cold packs to any sore areas that need some extra attention. This will help you feel comfortable and perform your best come race day!

This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Be sure to consult with your physician before making any changes to your exercise routine.